Sunday, 23 October 2011

23 Oct: Afternoon ride to Saffron Walden

Conrad writes: 10 riders, including Josh who was new to the club and David whose last club ride was in 1984, were at Brookside for today's afternoon ride to Saffron Walden. It was perfect weather for cycling except that we would have to contend with a strong headwind for most of the outbound journey.

The first part of today's route was quite straightforward --- out on Trumpington to the Shelfords and Whittlesford. It was quite clear that the headwinds would be a major factor in today's ride as the group became strung out and splintered into smaller groups on the long exposed stretches of road between Shelford and Whittlesford and progress was slower than usual. At Duxford, Josh turned back to attend a 4pm appointment back in Cambridge and we continued on to Elmdon, where Lynn, who had arrived at Brookside 5 minutes late but managed to catch up with us at Shelford, also turned back.

It was a relief to pick up speed going down Essex Hill before we took the pleasant country lane up to Duddenhoe End. Here, I gave the riders a choice :- take the direct off-road Roman Road which would have shelter from the headwinds, or stay on the road to Langley Upper Green. I had tried the offroad route on Friday and found that it was a wide, passable track with some loose gravel and stones. On account of my poor off-road skills, I did have to get off my bike and walk on some short stretches, particularly a dip in the track where a stream would flow if there was sufficient rainfall. In any case, Steve G, Mike K, John and Cheryl took the Roman Road, while Mike Sleep, Neil, David and Simon followed me on a loop through Langley Upper Green and we joined the offroad group just before the left-turn to Stickling Green.

From here, it was a quick ride along the rolling landscape through Arkesden, Wenden Ambo (where we met Mike Stapleton cycling in the opposite direction) and onto SaffronWalden. We arrived at the Temeraire at 4:40 pm which was a credible time given the strong headwinds and climbs we had done. There were already 10 riders from the all-day ride enjoying their coffees in the glorious sunshine.

The slow service meant that we only left the pub at 5:15 pm, by which time the day-riders, along with Mike K, Simon and John, had already left for Cambridge. I led the remaining riders back to Cambridge via Little Walden, Hadstock, Linton (where there were some glorious views of the water tower in the sunset), Balsham and Fulbourn. I arrived home at 6:45pm, after cycling 46 miles. Conrad Chua


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2 comments:

  1. It was quite clear that the headwinds would be a major factor in today's ride as the group became strung out and splintered into smaller groups on the long exposed stretches of road

    I think that as a club we are not particularly good at riding in headwinds (and downright dismal in sidewinds). We have some strong riders so we ought to be able to organize a group that keeps the slower riders sheltered, but the latter are also the least skilled at group riding and tend not to get properly on the wheel of the rider in front. Maybe we would benefit from a bit more of a disciplined approach? But on the other hand I would feel odd telling people where to ride.

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  2. and tend not to get properly on the wheel of the rider in front

    In particular I've had this experience a few times when attempting to give other riders a tow into a headwind: I look back and there's a gap to the rider I'm trying to tow, so I slow down, but the gap doesn't shrink—the rider is staying at a safe distance that's too far back for them to get any benefit.

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